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Authors: Tina Folsom

Tags: #Romance

Samson's Lovely Mortal (6 page)

BOOK: Samson's Lovely Mortal
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When he’d been turned into a vampire at the start of the nineteenth century, he’d realized very quickly that even a vampire needed money to live. On a whim, he’d started hiring himself out to protect travelers at night. It turned out security was a profitable enterprise. It also meant there was always a large supply of lowlifes and criminals from which he could feed, while protecting a wealthy traveler or an expensive shipment.

Later, he’d turned his one-man enterprise into a company and hired other likeminded vampires. As a vampire, he finally achieved the success which had eluded him as a human. It was ironic that, as a vampire, he was able to protect the very lives so many of his fellow vampires wanted to destroy. It was Samson’s way of preserving his humanity.

Now his nationwide firm provided security guards and bodyguards to corporations, celebrities, foreign dignitaries, and other individuals. While he’d kept the company’s headquarters in New York, he’d decided to withdraw to San Francisco to live a quieter and more normal life. As normal as life could be for a vampire.

Many of his employees were fellow vampires, mostly working as night guards or bodyguards. He’d groomed several human managers who became the daytime face of Scanguards and dealt with the public. Very few of his human employees knew, or had ever seen, Samson. And Samson wouldn’t recognize many of his human employees if he met them on the street. He liked it that way.

He kept out of the day-to-day running of the business, but liked to keep up to date by reviewing all important reports from the various branches. He would only intervene if things started sliding. There were always little problems somewhere, but he trusted his managers to take care of the small stuff. He wasn’t a micro manager.

Ricky, Amaury, and Thomas all worked for him. Ricky was in charge of vampire recruitment, Amaury dealt with real estate, and Thomas was chief of IT. Their friendship didn’t get in the way of work—well, most of the time at least. Milo had started hanging out with them since he and Thomas had become an item almost nine months earlier.

The blackout shades in Samson’s lavishly decorated bedroom were drawn as he sat on his four-poster bed and flipped through the reports, every few seconds glancing at his cell phone. He’d sent his assistant Oliver off to Delilah’s apartment over half an hour ago and had still not received a text message back.

Oliver was human and acted as his eyes and ears during the day. He was one of the very few humans who knew Samson was a vampire. Samson had saved Oliver from a life of crime, and his prodigy repaid him with loyalty and dedication.

Carl, who was a vampire, was his driver, butler and personal assistant at night. Samson’s personal employees earned more than many managers in large companies did. It wasn’t that he was extraordinarily generous, but he knew human and vampire natures very well. If staff were paid extremely well and treated even better, they were loyal. And loyalty was paramount to him.

What took Oliver so long? Was Delilah not up yet? He looked at the antique clock on the mantle. It was past eight o’clock, and he was getting extremely tired. As a vampire he was able to stay up during daytime, but at a somewhat diminished capacity. His senses weren’t as sharp, and his energy level was lower than normal. Of course he couldn’t go outside, because the rays of the sun would burn him to ash. But he could move about the house as long as no direct sunlight touched him.

A humming sound alerted him to a message on his cell phone. He looked at it.

She said yes.

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Samson couldn’t remember when he’d last been so excited about seeing a woman. Or excited about anything for that matter. He’d make sure it would be perfect. How he wanted her! He could already imagine the things he’d do with her, the way he’d touch her, how he would plunge into her until he was completely spent. This would be his real, if belated, birthday present to himself.

FOUR

 

Delilah shook her head, trying to contain her irritation over John’s reluctance to comply with her request.

“No, the electronic records won’t suffice. I’ll need the backup documents for these transactions,” she insisted and looked up at John who hovered over her desk, a gesture she interpreted as intimidation. It wouldn’t work on her, despite the fact that she hated it when people she barely knew got so close to her.

The training she’d had on how to deal with difficult clients taught her not to show her emotions on her face. While she watched sweat accumulate on John’s brow, her own face remained unwavering, just the way she’d practiced often enough in front of the mirror. She didn’t need to see her reflection; she knew exactly how her facial muscles felt when she did it right.

“We don’t have them here. They’re all at a storage facility down at Oyster Point.”

Not a good enough excuse. Not that any excuse would work on her.

“Where’s Oyster Point?”

“In South San Francisco.”

“Well, that shouldn’t be too much trouble then. Get them up here this afternoon.”

Even though she wasn’t familiar with San Francisco and its surroundings, she knew where South San Francisco was, since she had passed it on her way from the airport. It couldn’t take longer than twenty minutes to drive to the facility in Oyster Point.

“I’ll request them, but I can’t guarantee that they’ll send them up this afternoon. It’s an outside vendor we use for this, and I don’t have any influence over how fast they work.” He shrugged his shoulders.

“Fine. Just get them here. If they’re not here this afternoon, I’ll want them tomorrow morning first thing. It’s already Friday tomorrow, and I really don’t want to spend my entire weekend in the office. I suppose you don’t either.”

She gave him another determined look, making sure her unyielding mask was still in place. If she had to threaten him with weekend work, so be it. It didn’t mean she had any intention of working this weekend. She was hoping to do some sightseeing on Saturday and Sunday. The plan was to wrap up the audit on Wednesday the following week. She was confident that by then she would have solved the mystery hidden in the books.

What she had discovered so far was promising. It appeared somebody was manipulating depreciation entries in the books. She trusted her gut feeling which told her something was fishy. It was done very methodically, and it appeared that it had been going on for close to a year.

Only a year—strange. Delilah looked at the dates on her screen again and confirmed the time frame. Why would records for the current and previous year already be in storage? Most companies would only send records older than three years into storage. She didn’t like the sound of it, not a bit.

The reason she wanted the original documents from John was because she needed to see who had first initiated and then authorized the transactions. The computer entries didn’t show it. Keying was done by low-level employees, approval was generally a level or two higher.

Delilah was fully aware that even though it was strictly against company policy, many employees would share logons when they were in a crunch and things had to get done. Therefore, while she knew whose logon had approved the transactions in question, only the original paperwork would confirm who was really behind it. And whoever was initiating these transactions was going to be in trouble once she wrote up her report.

“I’m going for some
dim sum
up in Chinatown. Do you want to tag along?” John’s offer came out of the blue.

Delilah was reminded that the night before she hadn’t gotten to enjoy her Chinese takeout and now felt a craving for it. She gave him a grateful smile.

“Actually, that’d be great. I’m starving.”

“Let’s go then.”

She snatched her jacket off the coatrack near the door and followed John out. Even though she’d already been in San Francisco for almost a week, this was the first time John had asked her to join him for lunch. All other days he’d always seemed in a hurry during lunch break, rushing out of the office as soon as she left for her own break.

Dim sum
would be a welcome distraction and hopefully make the day go by faster. She couldn’t wait till seven o’clock and her date with Samson. What would she wear? She hadn’t really brought anything dressy. Maybe she could stop by a boutique after work and buy something suitable?

She walked up the steep streets into Chinatown next to John. He seemed to be quite fit, even though he didn’t look it.

“Have you had
dim sum
before?” he asked.

“Sure. I have it all the time in New York. But I think our Chinatown is not quite as large as yours.” She figured she should make small talk with him.

“I read somewhere that San Francisco’s Chinatown is the largest in the US. Not sure if it’s true, but it might be.” John seemed surprisingly chatty. “Lots of shops here, and if you go a few blocks up toward Stockton, there are actually some quite decent food shops. Down here it’s mostly knick knacks and souvenirs. Tons of tourists.”

“Yeah, I noticed. I’ve been through here at midday before, and the sidewalks were so packed you couldn’t even get through.” She looked down Grant Street, the main drag in Chinatown. The place was teeming with tourists and merchants.

“It’ll get even more packed this weekend. It’s the Chinese New Year, and there’ll be a parade on Saturday night. You might want to watch it. I normally go with the kids. They love it. There’ll be a dragon and all kinds of fun stuff.”

“Maybe I’ll check it out.”

She followed John into the tacky-looking Chinese restaurant. It was busy with mostly Chinese customers, which was always a good sign. The hostess led them to a table. The red tablecloth was covered with a glass plate which she wiped down quickly.

“To drink?” She was curt almost to the point of being unfriendly.

“Tea,” both of them said in unison.

“I bet you can’t wait to get back home and sleep in your own bed,” John mused.

Delilah smiled. “Absolutely.”
Not
. After meeting Samson, she wished she could extend her stay to see where things would lead. But it wasn’t in the cards.

“Must be tough to constantly have to travel for your job.”

Delilah nodded absentmindedly. She had never thought it tough. Actually, it was a blessing to be gone so much. At least she wouldn’t have to admit how lonely she really was in her little apartment in New York. When she was on the road and staying it hotels, she could pretend to others what an interesting life she had. Nobody would get to know her well enough to see through her and find out just how little she had to go back to.

She had no brothers or sisters, well, not anymore anyway. Her mother had had trouble conceiving, and Delilah had begged to have a little brother or sister for years when she was a child. When her mother had suddenly gotten pregnant again at the age of almost thirty-five, the entire family had been ecstatic. A little over a year later their world had collapsed, and her baby brother was gone. Her mother was never the same after that.

Her father was almost ten years older than her mother and was now in a home for Alzheimer’s patients. He didn’t recognize her any longer, and while she took care of him financially, she’d stopped seeing him. She was just a stranger to him, and it hurt her every time she saw him.

Her mother had died two years earlier. It was a blessing that her father didn’t know. Alzheimer’s had already claimed too much of his conscious self for him to know that his beloved wife of over forty years had died of cancer. The doctors kept her up to date on his condition on a regular basis, but there was nothing else she could do. He seemed comfortable, and the home she had chosen for him was one of the best. No member of her once-happy family was left.

“Delilah, did you want some of these?” John pulled her out of her depressing memories.

The waitress showed them a platter with little dumplings.

“Oh, sure.”

She dipped a dumpling into the soy sauce and devoured it. “This is delicious. Do you come here often?”

“At least once or twice a week. It’s pretty convenient for the office. My wife hates Chinese food, so I normally get my fix during the week,” he admitted and laughed. “Oh, which reminds me: my wife wanted to know what time I’m going to be home for dinner tonight. She was going to cook her special dish.”

Delilah caught John’s oddly curious look.

“Well, I was planning to leave the office at five o’clock tonight.”

She could probably get some clothes shopping done in less than half an hour, then …

“Five o’clock. So early? Any plans?” His question was so casual, she almost didn’t hear it.

… then take a shower, shave her legs, do her toenails …

“Actually I’m going to the theater.” Maybe pink for the toenails? Was red too aggressive?

“That sounds like fun. What are you going to see?”

She loved the stage and always got excited when she knew she’d see a play. But this time the reason for her excitement had a different name.

 “I don’t really know.” Delilah averted her eyes, afraid they would reflect her excitement about the upcoming date. She didn’t really care what she was going to see, as long as the man sitting next to her was Samson Woodford.

“What do you mean, you don’t know?” John looked confused.

“An acquaintance is taking me out, and I completely forgot to ask which play we’re seeing.” An acquaintance—she wanted Samson to be much more than that, at least an acquaintance she could have sex with. Lots of sex. Lots of good sex. If he was as good in bed as his kiss promised, there’d be lots of great sex.

Was it getting warmer in the restaurant?

“Too spicy?”

“What?” Delilah lifted her gaze to meet John’s inquisitive stare.

“The dumpling.” He pointed at her plate.

“Yes, yes. I think I put too much hot sauce on it.”

It was probably safer not to think of sex anymore while out for lunch with John. Or in the office during the rest of the day for that matter, especially since there was no air conditioning in the building.

***

Samson wished he could see his reflection in a mirror, but since vampires didn’t reflect in mirrors, he had to make do with Carl.

“How do I look?”

“Dashing.” Carl wasn’t a vampire of many words.

Samson fiddled with his shirt collar. “Too much? Shall I change into something less flashy?”

He wore dark slacks and a simple white shirt with the top two buttons open, no tie. He wanted to look casual, but not too casual. He fidgeted with his shirt collar again.

“If I didn’t know any better, sir, I’d say you were nervous about tonight.”

“Have you ever seen me nervous, Carl?” Samson deflected.

“Never, sir. Not a single time in the almost eighteen years I’ve been working for you. You are confidence personified. Which makes this rather strange, if I may say so.”

Point taken.

“Has it been that long already?”

“Indeed.”

Samson remembered the dark October night well when he’d had made the fateful decision. Save Carl or let him die?

“Do you regret it?” Samson did. He regretted having subjected Carl to a life as a vampire, but back then, he’d only had a few seconds to make a decision. Carl’s attackers had left him bleeding to death. Had he not turned him, Carl’s life would have been over.

Carl raised his eyebrows. “Regret that I work for a gentleman?”

Shaking his head, he replied, “I’m no saint. We both know that.”

“None of us are. But you are a gentleman. I believe your mother, God rest her soul, would be proud of you. She must have been an extraordinary woman, having raised a son like you.”

Samson smiled. “You would have liked her.” He paused. “Carl, have you ever thought of doing anything else? I mean, did you never want to start a different career?”

“There’s nothing I’d rather do than work for you.”

“I’m glad to hear that. You know, I would be quite lost without you. My household and my life would be a mess if I didn’t have you.”

“Thank you. Shall we, sir?” Carl motioned toward the front door; as always, trying to keep him on schedule.

“And you’re sure this is fine?” Samson felt his forehead crease in a frown.

“Yes, sir.” Carl nodded and helped him into his coat, before opening the front door. The rain had stopped again, and it looked like it would be dry, for a few hours at least.

As Samson settled into the back seat of the limousine, he wondered how he should play it. Casual and sweet? Aggressive? Sexy? Damn, he had no idea what would work on her. Apart from her name and where she lived, he knew absolutely nothing about her. Well, Oliver had also reported where she worked, but he had no idea what she actually did. The building where Oliver had dropped her off housed more than twenty different companies. Maybe he should have instructed Oliver to run a background check on her so he would be armed with a little bit more than his charm to get through the evening. And get her into bed. His bed.

He knew he had to be careful since he’d already screwed up the night before, acting like a jerk. Maybe a sweet-and-charming approach would work best with her. He would try that first. Light conversation, lots of laughter, nothing heavy. It was a good plan. He could do that.

The ride was short, almost too short for him to collect his thoughts. He stopped Carl from getting out of the car.

“Thanks, Carl; I’ll get her myself.”

Samson stepped into the dark street and went into the lobby. He loved the winter months, because sunsets were early, and it gave him longer nights and more opportunities to be outside.

The lobby attendant announced him on the phone. Samson waited patiently, settling in for at least a ten-minute wait. He knew what women were like. Certainly the vamp ladies he’d dated had always left him waiting, as if it was an unwritten rule never to be ready on time. Human women surely were no different.

The lobby was adorned with a large mural, and he admired the artwork. He hadn’t been here for a long time. His company owned a couple of condos in the building. They used them for out-of-town business associates, but he never visited any of them himself. Amaury was in charge of dealing with all of his real estate holdings.

BOOK: Samson's Lovely Mortal
9.72Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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